I was invited to sit in on the July 12, 2017 board meeting of the Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council, an economic development nonprofit organization. The board is comprised of independent contractors, representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, telecommunications organizations, and State Library staff. Much of my research about the goings-on in Arizona has occurred in the faceless space of the Internet, and it was invigorating to be close to the action, so to speak. This passionate, action-driven group is heavily involved in a number of economic development, education, and healthcare initiatives to gather information on and promote the use of broadband throughout the state. For example, in 2012, ATIC provided extensive support and sponsorship of the Digital Arizona Highways Act of 2012 (SB 1402), which expands the rules governing the management of state rights of way to include transportation of information as well as vehicular transportation, effectively allowing for fiber conduits to be installed along state highways.
The meeting included informal presentations–including a brief overview of the Digital Inclusion Corps project–as well as activity reports from various board members regarding rural community outreach, K-12 education, E-rate, and government affairs. A handful of board members reported on a meeting about the revitalized Arizona Statewide Broadband Planning project, a collaboration between the State of Arizona and private industry providers to identify areas within the state in need of middle/last mile infrastructure and to develop an updated statewide broadband strategic plan. The project team is currently requesting updated data from service providers to be used to build the strategic plan, expected to be completed by early 2018.